Cross marketing is a smart way for two or more businesses to jointly promote their products or services. Potential benefits of joint marketing include cost savings, additional advertising exposure, new customers and increased sales. Cross-marketing programs are practical for companies of all sizes. It is essential for the participating businesses to work together collaboratively -- advance planning can help to iron out any critical differences. The primary challenge for business owners and marketing managers is to find complementary services and products that can be combined effectively in a joint marketing effort.
Many businesses would probably use advertising more extensively if costs could be reduced. Cross marketing is a viable strategy for doing this effectively. If two or three businesses share the expense of newspaper and online ads, the overall cost for each participating company can be reduced by 50 to 66 percent. A related joint marketing idea is for companies to pool mailing lists and send a joint promotional postcard.
One example of a practical reciprocal discounting idea is to give one of your cross-marketing partner’s products away with a large purchase of your merchandise -- in exchange, your partner would do the same by giving away one of your services or products with a larger purchase. This will reward your best customers while also promoting each partner’s goods and services. Another variation of a reciprocal discount approach is to offer discounts and promotions for the joint marketing partner on receipts and invoices.
The cost of physical space requirements can be a financial burden for any business -- sharing these expenses can take many forms. One example involves sharing a booth at trade shows and other public events. Another practical illustration is sharing a facility on a full-time basis. For example, if you need to rent an art studio, consider arrangements that would allow related businesses to share the same workplace.
Interviews and Social Media Comments
Media attention can often be increased by including multiple individuals and news sources in one story. A joint interview that involves you and several cross-marketing partners might generate more interest by addressing a wider variety of topics in one article or broadcast interview. A variation of this approach could involve each cross-marketing partner adding comments to social media pages for partner businesses.
Joint Newsletters and Referrals
Newsletters and referrals can frequently work more effectively when there is a joint marketing plan in place. Preparing and distributing a newsletter is both time-consuming and costly. By sharing production responsibilities, cross-marketing partners can save both time and money while also adding more variety with diversified content from two or more sources. Business referrals can be a profitable source of new business opportunities for any company -- a group of business owners working together for cross marketing should actively review their referral strategies on a regular basis.
More Cross Marketing Ideas
If one cross-marketing idea does not immediately succeed, you should consider other possibilities. For example, you can set up displays at your partner’s location while your partner does the same at your business. This can include a table or cabinet with appropriate information and samples. Another variation is for each partner to drop cross-promotional fliers in shopping bags or to hang cross-marketing posters in the front business window. Your creative juices are likely to inspire other cross marketing ideas as well -- sponsoring contests with prizes from all partners and co-producing library lectures or other public presentations are two more illustrations of cross marketing at work.
Stephen Bush is based in Ohio and has been a business finance consultant and writer for more than 30 years. Bush obtained a Master of Business Administration in management and finance at the University of California, Los Angeles.